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Poppin’ delivers one out of the box at Zunica’s Nelson café.

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Poppin’ delivers one out of the box at Zunica’s Nelson café.

It’s an assumption, held by most designers when handed a brief to fit out a newly-conceived hospitality space, that details of the intended style of cuisine, or the expected clientele, or even just a venue name will be revealed.  However, in a twist to the usual design process, when approached by the developers of the café now known as Nelson, Melbourne-based design studio Zunica were given a brief that was equal parts mystifying and empowering.

Set at ground level of a combined residential/hotel build in outer-suburban Box Hill, the 60-seater hospitality space was destined to be on-sold, so an open-minded approach to the interior design was required.  Quick to see the myriad benefits of a less restrained brief, principal designer Andrew Zunica framed the experience as an entirely positive one.  “With no specified cuisine, or even a name, we looked to it as an exciting chance to work with materials we enjoy,” says Zunica.

“Our approach is generally minimalist. In this case, we used the existing exposed concrete and formwork as the base structure then applied our favoured use of just three key materials – stone, metal and timber.”  Bespoke benchtops, countertops and tables were skillfully created by stonemasons from Fibonacci Stone’s striking ‘Poppin’ slabs, adding a burst of complexity to the overall calm of the space.

“We had worked with Fibonacci Stone previously, and we were excited to explore another of their designs – consequently, the overall palette was influenced by the colour of Poppin’,” says Zunica.  A limited employment of timber battens on the walls and several table-tops added an element of warmth, and beautifully muted sage green shelving and chairs, combined with an elegant selection of indoor greenery, fully resolved the scheme. And in a clear win for all parties involved, the design attracted the eye of the eventual proprietors of the café, the prolific Only Hospitality group.

“This project is a classic example of the versatility of our terrazzo stone within the hospitality sector”, says Michael Karakolis, Creative Director of Fibonacci Stone.  “It is hard-wearing and designed for longevity in both design and function, but what we also see here is how crucial it is to understand and appreciate the importance of using experienced and talented stonemasons to achieve beautiful outcomes.  Andrew Zunica is a brilliant designer that appreciates and respects craftsmanship – and this is abundantly evident in each of his projects.”

Like all of the products in our range, Poppin’ is a stocked item, with NO LEAD TIME which means no need to re-select, no project delays and no disappointed clients.


Photography by Alex Reinders